The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to give an urgent hearing to a plea of the Tamil Nadu government for setting up the Cauvery management board for implementation of the Cauvery water disputes tribunal award, saying there is "no urgency" for it.
"We don't think there is any urgency in the prayer made by Tamil Nadu. The application can be heard along with civil appeal on award given by the tribunal," a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said.
The bench asked the Karnataka government to file its response on setting up of the board. It observed that the monsoon has been good this year and there is no scarcity of water for Tamil Nadu and asked the state not to get apprehensive about the irrigation project being considered by the Karnataka government.
"Whatever they (Karnataka) do in their territory, your anxiety gets triggered. These are irrigation schemes and it takes time," the bench said.
"In this monsoon, God has taken care of water. We can understand that there has been a drought situation and your crop gets affected," the bench said, while posting the matter for hearing in January next year.
The bench said the apprehension of the Tamil Nadu government that the project considered by Karnataka will affect water sharing is "misplaced and misconceived".
The Centre also submitted that it is not giving clearance to any such project.
"Why are you obsessed with the board? We have made an ad-hoc arrangement. If it is not working then we are here to look into," the bench told the Tamil Nadu government.
The Tamil Nadu government, in its application, had sought the court's intervention to set up the Cauvery management board alleging that Karnataka was planning to construct a hydropower station at Mekedatu for which three reservoirs were planned across the river.
Tamil Nadu's application had alleged that the proposed reservoir was illegal and would affect the flow of Cauvery river considerably and also irrigation in the state.
The final award of the Cauvery waters dispute tribunal was notified by the Centre on February 20 after the Supreme Court rapped the central government for delaying the decision.
The tribunal, comprising chairman Justice N P Singh and members N S Rao and Sudhir Narain, in an unanimous award in February, 2007, had determined the total availability of water in the Cauvery basin at 740 thousand million cubic feet at the Lower Coleroon Anicut site.
The proceedings of the tribunal, set up in June 1990, went on for more than 16 years.
In what was then described as a balancing act, the tribunal gave Tamil Nadu 419 TMC feet of water (as against the demand of 562 TMC feet), Karnataka 270 TMC feet (as against its demand of 465 TMC feet), Kerala 30 TMC feet and Puducherry 7 TMC feet. It had reserved 10 TMC feet for environmental protection.
After issuance of the notification, institutions like the Cauvery River Authority chaired by the prime minister and the Cauvery Monitoring Committee had ceased to exist and new organisations like the Cauvery management board and the Cauvery water regulation committee were to be constituted which would have representatives from all the co-basin states, experts in hydrology and agriculture. They would be headed by an officer of the central government and will be under the control of the Centre.